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Published on: 08/14/15 10:25 AM

Book review: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris


 

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris.

That seasoned word-wielder turns her limpid gaze on the Norse (anti)god Loki here, and the result is a re-telling of the Asgard and Ragnarok legends as seen and experienced by the Liar of Liars, the Shapeshifter, the demon from Chaos with a decided penchant for stirring up huge cauldrons of trouble.

The tone is sardonic, laconic, light and witty, with absolutely no traces of self-pity and because of that, arresting. The story is not a new one; it traces the creation of the magnificent Asgard, abode of the cold and manipulating gods, of how Odin the Allfather recruits, for some inscrutable and inexplicable reason, this capricious demon and takes him to Asgard, how the flow and ebb of life up there is anything but smooth and how soon, things come to a pass (hugely orchestrated and helped along by the narrator, of course) where it is Asgard vs. everyone else in a fight to the end, The End being Ragnarok, of course.

Even as Loki lays out the facts in a manner that deliberately underplays all the serious sins of malice, commission and omission he commits, what comes through is that the demon hungers for a place amongst the gods at Asgard, yearns for respect, longs for a significant role to play in things as they come to pass. Well, ultimately he has more than a significant role to play in matters as they come to pass, but for all the wrong reasons. Also, there is his convoluted relationship with his `blood brother` Odin, full of complex and twisted emotions.

Seen through Loki’s cynical eyes, Thor is strong but not too intelligent, Freyja is vainglorious, Odin is a master puppeteer, his wife Frigg promiscuous, Loki’s wife Sigyn is a sucker for punishment, Heimdallr a servile fool, and so on; not a good word for any of them.

Then again, the demon god is not light on himself. Sample this: I was the wrong note in the symphony, the cockroach on the wedding cake; the bear with its paw in the honey pot; the razor blade in the cookie jar.

While this is not a magical re-telling of the fascinating legend, it certainly is a page-turner. But then, that is the least you can expect from this author. The pace is brisk, the repartees are, strangely, just how a Hollywood scriptwriter would have written them.

The only thing is, and I’m not too troubled about it, I kept visualising Tom Hiddleston (Hollywood’s Loki) all through, and hearing his voice in this tale. Then again, elsewhere, as when Loki muses upon that terrible moment when a god turns out to be no more than a man, it is clearly Joanne Harris` voice the reader hears.

Loki is the less than pleasant side to all of us, and so he is a compelling character. And Harris does full justice to him.

Well maybe, just maybe, there will be a fresh take on the Legend of Loki on celluloid, based on this tale by Joanne M Harris. Which would be a good thing, because after reading this book the reader is never going to view the Thor films in quite the same way as before!

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Snippets:

I don’t pretend to know much about love, but that’s how great loves come to an end, not in the flames of passion, but in the silence of regret.

I don’t pretend to know much about love, but that’s how great loves come to an end, not in the flames of passion, but in the silence of regret.

 Loki waxing uncharacteristically sentimental.

Related Links:

Book review: The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris

Book review: Different Class by Joanne Harris

Book review: A Cat, A Hat and a Piece of String by Joanne Harris

 

Joanne HarrisNorse legendThe Gospel of Loki

Sheila Kumar • August 14, 2015


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